TSA to require some electronics out of bags at 10 U.S. airports starting Memorial Day weekend

The TSA will be testing out expanded screening for carry-on electronics larger than a phone and certain food items at selected airports around the country. The new rules come just two days after a major terrorist attack in Manchester, UK, and stepped-up security in response.

The TSA says they're “testing security screening procedures for carry-on bags at 10 U.S. airports” only, and “There are no changes to nationwide procedures.”

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When the TSA got suspicious of a scientist's 3D-printed mouse penis

Sometimes, in the course of his work, University of Florida molecular geneticist Martin Cohn must travel with unusual items like a 3D-printed mouse penis. Similarly, University of Massachusetts biologist Diane Kelly totes around anatomical models like a mold of a dolphin vagina. They're not alone in the odd science-related items they must fly with, from bottles of monkey piss to a stash of 5,000-year-old human bones. At The Atlantic, Ed Yong explores what happens when objects of science meet airport security:

The TSA once stopped Michael Polito, an Antarctic researcher from Louisiana State University, because his bag contained 50 vials of white powder. When he explained that the powder was freeze-dried Antarctic fur seal milk, he got a mixed reaction. “Some officers just wanted to just wave me on,” he says. “Others wanted me to stay and answer their questions, like: How do you milk a fur seal? I was almost late for my flight.”

Airport security lines, it turns out, are a fantastic venue for scientists to try their hand at outreach. Various scientists are said to have claimed that you don’t really understand something if you can’t explain it to your grandmother, a barmaid, a six-year-old, and other such sexist or ageist variants. But how about this: can you successfully explain it to an TSA official—someone who not only might have no background in science, but also strongly suspects that you might be a national security threat? Can you justify your research in the face of questions like “What are you doing?” or “Why are you doing it?” or “Why are you taking that onto a plane?”

Cohn did pretty well to the four assembled TSA agents who started quizzing him about his mouse penis.

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That time the TSA started screening all paper products separately

Akal Security Inc is the TSA contractor that screens passengers at Kansas City International Airport under a $108m/5 year contract; earlier this month they began abruptly scanning all paper products in carry on luggage, requiring passengers to pull out their books, papers, even post-it notes for secondary inspection. Read the rest

The story of the TSA's oddly entertaining Instagram account

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA)'s Instagram account is a real hoot, featuring weird, ridiculous, and sometimes helpful images of items that are prohibited and permitted to bring on flights. Apparently Jeremy Bentham's mummified head, above, "is allowed in carry-on as long as it's properly packaged, labeleled, and declared..." Also, who knew that Batarangs and Krull Glaives were so popular. From National Geographic:

“It almost looks like we’re in the entertainment business at times,” says Bob Burns, lead social media specialist with the TSA Office of Public Affairs and the man behind the account’s cheeky posts. After leaving his rock band in 2002, Burns originally joined TSA as a screener and later started the Instagram account in 2013—his idea to educate the public in a more engaging way.

“Everyone’s had that teacher where you’re afraid to ask questions because you’ll get criticized or yelled at. The human tone of our Instagram account makes us more approachable,” Burns says. “The majority of our photos are prohibited items and strange things … we try to use that as a teaching moment: A chainsaw is not allowed in your carry-on bag.”

Talk about deadheading... This crusty ol' chap is actually a prop from the #TexasChainsawMassacre movie. He was brought through a checkpoint at the Atlanta (#ATL) International Airport, where as you can see, he was screened and sent on his jolly way. #TSAOnTheJob

A post shared by TSA (@tsa) on May 15, 2016 at 3:41pm PDT

Some might find this nanner knife appealing. I’m guessing you have a bunch of them?

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TSA confirms miniature magic warhammers not OK on planes

"Can I bring my rechargable power bank the shape of the greatest orc warriors Orgrim's Doomhammer on a plane?" asks Itaku on Twitter.

"We're glad you asked," replies AskTSA, an official account of the Transportation Security Administration. "Replica weapons, even those belonging to Horde Chieftains, must be packed in checked bags."

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TSA's new "pat-downs" are so invasive, airports are pre-emptively warning cops to expect sexual assault claims

If the TSA thinks that you're suspicious -- or if you opt out of the "optional" full-body scanner -- you get a junk-touching "secondary screening" in which the screeners "pat you down" by rubbing the backs of their hands on your genitals and other "sensitive areas" (they can be pretty rough -- a screener at ORD once punched me in the balls to retaliate for me asking him not to rest the tub containing my bags on top of my unprotected laptop). Read the rest

80-year-old lady surprised when TSA finds sword inside her walking cane

The AP reports that an 80-year-old South Carolina woman had no idea her cane contained a sword until she attempted to board a plane and it was inspected by TSA staff.

News outlets report that Transportation Security Administration regional spokesman Mark Howell recounted the incident Thursday at Myrtle Beach International Airport as part of an effort to highlight examples of dangerous items recently carried by passengers departing the airport.

Howell told reporters secret swords are not actually that uncommon a discovery for TSA screeners since people sometimes buy the canes at thrift stores without realizing there's a sword inside.

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Internal TSA files reveal that they have no evidence the $1B "behavioral detection" program works

In 2013, the TSA blew $1B on "behavioral detection," which would allegedly train agents to spot potential terrorists by looking for a hilariously stupid list of "tells" including "a bobbing adam's apple," "arriving late," "trembling," "yawning," "excessive throat clearing," "improper attire," "gazing down," and "wide open staring eyes," Also: "being in disguise." Read the rest

Judge Reinhold arrested at Dallas airport for refusing a second TSA screening

Actor Judge Reinhold was flying out of Dallas Love Field on Thursday and his bag set off an "alarm" on a TSA scanner, so security personnel demanded to pat Reinhold down; Reinhold objected that he'd already passed through the naked scanner and didn't believe he should have to get a government-mandated genital massage as well. Police were called and he was arrested. Read the rest

Aviation's war on moisture turns ten today

Ten years ago, British domestic security claimed to have caught a terrorist cell that had planned to blow up airplanes with a gel they'd carry on in a Gatorade bottle and detonate with an Ipod. Read the rest

Transparent suitcase

Not that it would stop the TSA from rifling through your clothes, but I do think the transparency of Crumpler's Vis-A-Vis clear suitcase makes a fun statement. The clear polycarbonate trunk is 46.5cm x 68cm x 25cm and sells for AU$745.00.

VIS-A-VIS - TRUNK 68CM CLEAR (via Weird Universe)

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TSA approves having a mummified head as your carry-on luggage, with reservations

As long as it is "properly packaged, labeled and declared," one may take Victorian philosopher Jeremy Bentham's mummified head onto your flight. The TSA added that travelers may simply snap a picture and tweet it to @AskTSA if they are in any doubt about the flight-legality of any desiccated human remains with which they wish to fly. Read the rest

Congress: TSA is worst place to work in USG, nearly half of employees cited for misconduct; it's getting worse

The House Homeland Security Committee Majority Staff Report has just published its investigation on aviation security, and the title really tells you everything you need to know: MISCONDUCT AT TSA THREATENS THE SECURITY OF THE FLYING PUBLIC. Read the rest

Paralyzed, partially deaf-blind teen with brain tumor beaten bloody by TSA

Hannah Cohen is a 19 year old who is being treated for a brain tumor at Memphis's St Jude's Hospital, who is "partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed, and easily confused" -- and who was subjected to a violent beating during a secondary TSA screening while flying home to Chatanooga, TN for the holidays.

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Traveler sues TSA for missed flight

Although Minneapolis man Hooman Nikizad arrived at the airport two hours early, as recommended, his hour-and-a-half wait in the security line made him miss his flight. He then had to buy a second ticket on another airline in order to get to his destination on time. Now he's suing the TSA for $506.85 to cover the cost.

"I had to buy a ticket with another airline to be able to make my destination and meet my obligations," Nikizad said in his claim, which noted the TSA had limited staff on duty at the time and "only one body scanner for the regular security line [in operation]"...The money being sought, he said, is to reimburse him for a replacement ticket, additional ground transportation expenses and the $75 court fee to file his claim.

No comment from the TSA. For more, read the full story at the Star Tribune. Read the rest

Airport security officer was alleged war criminal, arrested for lying about participation in "genocidal acts" (UPDATED)

Yusuf Abdi Ali, a former Somali national army commander, is a pretty famous alleged war criminal, someone who's been profiled on major news media, deported from Canada over a failed claim of refugee status, arrested in the USA for lying about his participation in "genocidal acts" on his visa applications, currently embroiled in a lawsuit with someone who claims Ali tortured and shot him -- and now he works as a private airport security officer at DC's Dulles airport. Read the rest

TSA's Instagram features bizarre items found at checkpoints

The TSA Instagram account is such a trove of high weirdness that I am now thinking of the TSA as a publicly-funded arts organization that I contribute to with taxes and time spent in line as it scans travelers for items to add to this gallery.

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